Sleep Habits + My Habit: Unplugging the Bedroom

This week is all about creating happy healthy habits. On Monday we shared the secret to breaking bad habits: create new ones (+ practice them).

It really is that simple.

Today I’d like to get even more personal and talk about our bedrooms, sleep and invite you into my own bedroom.

nat bedroom apartmentdiet

Yup. My bedroom…

Those of you who’ve been following us for a while may remember our happy house rule around bedrooms: design your bedroom for rest + romance. Welcome all of you who are new to here.

This rule came directly out of our work with clients. That is, starting with the bedroom is a great corner to start.

Like the old adage “clear your desk for good work”, a clear, uncluttered bedroom provides a lovely path into good sleep.

When there is literally less to stress you out in your bedroom, chances are you can get on with sleeping more easily – something your body so badly needs. After all, humans are not machines. We need rest. It’s where growth happens. Literally.

Sleep and stress are also related. I’m much happier when I’ve slept well, and am also much better equipped to making better decisions. On the contrary, I really don’t think very clearly when I haven’t slept well, and I tend to be a bit of a cranky asshole.

So one habit we often discuss with clients is to start with the bedrooms, and adding habits that lead to getting a good night sleep.

This means, but is not limited to taking 5minutes to:

  • Clean those piles next to your bed
  • Put away clothes
  • Move laundry hamper into the bathroom
  • Put on clean fresh sheets
  • Make the bed
  • Go to bed a bit earlier, even once a week
  • Invest in a good mattress
  • Unplug your bedroom – remove all screens, chargers…

…ah the last one. I snuck it in there on you.

calm bedroom grey linen sheets

For many of you, you’re probably reading this while caressing your phone / ipad gently and letting it know how much you love to watch / read / play with it before bed. Or how you love to work on it in bed.

You’re telling me “that’s fine for you but really, I couldn’t possibly.”

All fine, valid and reasonable. Except this.

Technology doesn’t really lead us to sleep all that great. In fact, screens seem to do the opposite of help us sleep.

There’s science to back me up. (See here and here for example).

“Researchers are warning that the blueish light their screens emit can stop users getting a good night’s sleep.

That is because this type of light mimics daylight, convincing the brain that it is still daytime.”

That’s why I add removing chargers as well. Because you can see the faint light even when your phone is upside down and under a pillow. (I’ve tried it ;)

So, maybe I’ve convinced you with the science.

I can bet I know what 9/10 of you are going to tell me next as an excuse. Ready…Scroll down past the pretty bedroom picture.

desgnlovefest bedroom by sfgirlbybay

“But I use my phone as an alarm clock”

Was I right?

I’m not a mind reader. The reason I know you were going to tell me this is that this is exactly what happened in my house. Unplugging our bedroom was the only happy house rule my Mr has ever blocked me on, and it took me a few weeks to get to the heart of the matter and understand why.

I had explained all the reasons about sleep and he seemed to agree, but for some reason had this annoying habit of having to bring his phone into our room to charge. I got annoyed and kept waiting for him to join in my new habit until I understood that this was now a space of argument* and my job was to end it. So instead of nagging “Why do you need your phone in the room, I’ve asked you a billion times” (which I probably had done the first two weeks) I said “Mr. It’s important for me that I sleep without technology in the bedroom. Is there a way for you to not have it in the bedroom?” to which he answered “But you always get up after me and I have to get out of bed to turn off the alarm”.

Hah! And that day I went and bought us an old fashioned but no light or sound emitting battery operated alarm clock. Argument over. We now sleep in peace. (Though I must admit these days we don’t need the alarm clock because our little one usually beats us too it ;).

fun calm bedroom

So that’s my story.

If there is one habit you start from reading us, I’d love knowing it was the gift of getting a better nights sleep. And I’d love you to consider unplugging your bedroom – removing phones  and screens, and thus reducing screen time before bed, too – as a way to do it. Don’t let some simple solution like an alarm clock be the reason you aren’t doing something.

This brings me back to a pattern I see with other habits, too. Often we block starting or continuing new habits because we go to extremes. We think it has to be all or nothing. It doesn’t. For instance, you don’t need to go cold turkey forever. Try it for a week. Try it for a few nights. We say 30 days / 5 weeks because usually that gives you enough time to practice. But well, if that feels too big. Try one night once a week. And build up. And so forth. You want to drink less soda or coffee but you aren’t ready to go cold turkey? No problem, commit to drinking a glass of water every time you drink soda/coffee. Baby steps is a perfectly reasonable way to add a habit too. It takes a bit longer but then, what’s the rush?

…So, what do you think – would you unplug your bedroom? Would love to hear your thoughts. And if you’re trying it, how it goes!

PS I have a beautiful and useful alarm clock design I want to produce. I’m thinking Normann Copenhagen or some company like that would be a great partner. And because I believe in putting out there to the universe what we would like I’m letting you all now, in case you are Normann Copenhagen or perhaps, you are the right partner for me.

Image sources: 1 – nat’s bedroom photographed by Asaf Kliger / 2 / 3 / 4


  1. Nat, I fully agree. I would like to go one step further – I turn off my apartment’s wi-fi at night. There’s no reason for it to be left on, and I think turning it off decreases the electromagnetic radiation in my space. Keep up the good work! Shannon

    • nat Author

      Oh Shannon – that’s a great idea! And totally right. Why does it need to be on indeed.
      Sometimes I think we have habits because we just never thought about living a different way…thanks for bringing it to my attention!
      And thank you :)

  2. Nat you have a beautiful bedroom!!

    Our bedroom at the moment is utterly awful, I mean seriously bad with piles of stuff everywhere that I haven’t put away, with the excuse that I haven’t had time because the kids are on holiday. It isn’t helping our sleep and I will start to sort it out, just for 5 minutes before I go to bed each night!

    I have also got a bit lazy on the technology front. getting up and down to feed sadie, I’ve been looking and reading things on my phone/kindle to keep me awake while feeding however it is getting sneakingly more often that i bring it back to bed with me ‘to just finish the chapter’ We don’t have a TV in our bedroom, and i think i will make a real effort to leave my phone on the shelf between ours and sadie’s bedroom, so i won’t be bringing it back into bed with me. So precious sleep time is exactly that!

    Thanks for a great post, Loving the habits series :) I will be joining you on the Sugar free september Tip, been reading a bit more about it and sounds good, and your riding a bike post really hit home too. You could have been describing me, but not with riding a bike, but driving the car. That is another habit I need to address!!

    • nat Author

      Hi Ruth, thanks for your lovely compliment and response!

      A few little things: one, everyone’s bedrooms get like this. The reason mine is less likely to is there is LITERALLY nothing in it (makes cleaning easy and even one pile looks evil the next morning).
      I also don’t have 3 kids…
      What I think happens is the bedroom becomes the easiest place for putting things away before they go away – thus the piles – and that’s where the habits come in. Not just the 5minutes. Also taking time with the 3 kids to play in your room with you tomorrow and help you put stuff in it’s easy place and so forth. Ask the hubs to help clear the bulk of it etc. Or some other idea you have so that instead of the piles being all in your sleep and romance space they are easily dealt with in their own unique places…

      On driving, so interesting, I know quite a few people in the same boat. It reminded me of what I missed from both these posts – “ask for help” / “do it in company”! Not just from our partners or kids but from friends to make driving/bike riding fun. Or even an instructor to help build confidence…Or a cleaner or whatever. Removing the idea that it always has to be on us. The habit itself maybe, but the practicing, well, why can’t it be shared ;)

      Would love to hear how it all goes this month! And it’ll help keep me accountable for bike riding too!

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